Monday, October 5, 2009

Can women be pastors ? No.

Lately, I've been dealing with this question more and more and I finally decided to address this topic once and for all. I do understand that this topic is NOT an Atheist topic but rather one within our own church, and with this blog being geared more towards refuting atheism, why would I bother to address this topic ? Because it's a HEAVILY debated topic and one that causes more division than most things in the church. Below is an article written by a Pastor of a church who affirms the position that women can be pastors. I am not writing this article to shun him or act as if I am smarter than him. I am writing this article first off because I love his church, I love him, and I want him to know and understand the scriptures better. With that being said, I've gone through the article and I've address some of the points made therein. My rebuttals are in red. Enjoy.


In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” That pretty much sums it up doesn’t it? Women can’t be pastors, right? Wrong… Whether or not you’ve read the whole Bible, you know it’s a very, very long book. This very long story has a lot to say about this issue. In order to understand this passage, we must understand more of the book.

Let us begin in Genesis.

When Adam and Eve rejected God’s leadership, they disconnected themselves from the source of all that is good. When anyone is disconnected from God, bad things happen. There are consequences. In Genesis 3, God lays out some of things that would happen, now that they had disconnected themselves from Him. In Genesis 3:16, God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Keep in mind, this is not the way things were supposed to be.

REBUTTAL #1: Whoa, stop right there ! Who said this is not the way things were supposed to be ? Granted it was after Eve sinned that God made that statement, BUT if that isn't how things were supposed to be, then HOW were they supposed to be ? Because if you look at the Created Order (a subject that referenced often throughout The New Testament you can clearly see that Adam was placed above Eve. Not in terms of value but in terms of responsibility. This is a doctrine called Federal Headship.(see Romans 5:12-14 ) long story short Sin did NOT enter the world through Eve, it entered the world through Adam. The problem with Genesis is that Eve TOOK the leadership position from Adam because Adam ALLOWED her to do (See Genesis 3:6). Adam should have been the leader and instructed Eve not to eat of the fruit. Because he did not, sin made the roles of husbands and wives more difficult. Note God called out ADAM first. God appointed Adam to be our representative, not Eve. When Adam sinned, the roles between husband and wife did not change. So for the writer to state "this is not the way things were supposed to be" I'd really like to know HOW things were supposed to be and from where they get their answer from. Moving on...

Now, we’ve seen this scenario played out over and over for centuries, haven’t we? Often, but not always, women place more emphasis on intimacy than they do authority. Often, but not always, women will sacrifice their leadership status, if it means they will be able to improve their relationships. Often, but not always, men value authority over relationship. Often, but not always, men will do things that will elevate their leadership status, even if it means they must hurt the ones they love.

After the fall, men were quick to lust after leadership. Not only did they want to lead, but worse yet, they didn’t even know how to. No one did. Not without God. Violence filled the earth. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that women were better than men, or anything like that. Men and women are totally depraved without God. We are both equally evil. We are nothing without God.

When it came to leadership, look at the ways civilizations wanted to spread their fame and increase their territories, largely by wars propagated and fought by men. Sin caused human beings to totally misunderstand and misuse the concept of leadership. Men would try to get other men to follow them. But even if that didn’t work, at least they could tell the women what to do. Many times they’d use their physical strength and stature to “put women in their place.” These are just a few of the many pathetic results of human rebellion against God.

God had a plan to redeem and restore creation, even before people rejected Him. Eventually, Jesus (100% God, 100% human) would come to us, suffer the consequences of sin (death, separation from God), and defeat them by rising from the dead, destroying the power of sin. Creation is on it’s way to one day living perfectly under the leadership of God, back to the way things were supposed to be in Genesis 1 and 2. That being said, there are many specific commands in the Bible that directly teach us how to live, right here, right now. However, the Bible does not explicitly and directly tell us what to do in every single situation.

Think about the Old Testament. There are over 600 laws, commandments that say “do this… do that…” or “don’t do this… don’t do that…” That’s a lot of rules. You might think that God would have dealt with every form of moral evil under the sun in these 600+ laws. However, not one of those laws says anything against polygamy. After the fall, men started taking many wives. Interestingly enough, God hates polygamy, but He allowed it. Polygamy was immensely destructive to society. And God allowed it?

Among those 600+ laws, God said that kings should not take “many wives” (Deuteronomy 17:17). He allowed them to take multiple wives, but just not “many.” God doesn’t even define what “many” is. It’s like when God says, “Don’t get drunk.” Well how many drinks does it take to make someone drunk? One state says the acceptable driving BAC is this, one state says that. But they didn’t have BAC tests back then… What is drunk? God expects the hearts of men and women to seek His desires, and then they will know the answer. Can you hear what the Spirit is saying?

Some people may wonder, “Why doesn’t God just straight out say ‘No’ to polygamy like He does with so many other bad things?” Well, maybe we can ask God that when we get to heaven. For now, it is important to understand that this is how God chose to deal with this very destructive pattern, a pattern that resulted from the fall.

Let’s look at another example: divorce. God hates divorce, big time. However, in that list of 600+ laws, God permitted divorce. When Jesus walked the earth, He told people how much He couldn’t stand divorce. Some people asked him, then why did God allow it in the Law, through Moses? “Jesus replied, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:8-9).

Get this, God hates divorce, but He didn’t deal with the situation directly for thousands of years, because our hearts were too hard. Our hearts and minds were too jaded to understand this concept, so God dealt with it “indirectly.” People read the Bible, got divorced, engaged in polygamy… because they didn’t hear the Spirit of the text.

NOTE: A lot of this is filler that I'm not really going to address. I will later on but not in this article. I was planning on removing it and just focus on the main topic, BUT in order to maintain the proper representation of the writer's argument, I decided to let that section remain. The actual topic is dealt with below.

Back to our original statement, “Women can be pastors”. Understanding how God dealt with polygamy and divorce sheds light on the strategy that God has used to make it clear that women can be pastors.

REBUTTAL #2: Wait...God hates polygamy...He only allowed it because in those times when a woman did not have a husband, her family was basically screwed, therefore someone would marry them (even if they had their own wife) in order to support that family. This does not mean God favored it. God has 2 wills, a Decreeing Will and a Permissive Will. The Decreeing Will of God is like when God SPOKE the Universe into being, He said let there be light and there was light. God said it, it happened, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. A Permissive Will is when God makes a statement but that statement is able to be ignored. For example, God stated in The 10 Commandments that "Thou shall have no other Gods before me.". God could've easily said "You will worship me." and EVERYONE on Earth would've bowed down. But He did not. His Permissive Will, enables us to sin, but it does not mean God favors it. It simply means He allows us to do. Polygamy was not favorable thing to do even in that society but it was considered necessary, and that's why they did it. Divorce on the other hand, yes God hates it, however He gave us 2 incidences in which He'll allow it. (see Matt 19:9).

As the centuries progressed, God communicated that women can operate in the spiritual gifts in the same way that men can. God didn’t just “come out and say it,” like we wish He would have. He expects us to overcome our prejudices and allow our hearts to grasp what the Spirit is saying.

In Judges 4, we read about a woman named Deborah, a prophet. God made Deborah the Judge over the entire nation of Israel. Don’t go thinin’ “Judge Judy” or “Judge Joe Brown.” There was only one Judge of Israel, and this position does not compare to the modern day judge. This is a position that was even more powerful and influential than today’s American president. God choose her. God gave her the gifts to lead. God led Israel through her. This was totally against the grain of culture. If the Bible were written by humans, and not God, it would never have said that God chose Deborah to be the Judge of Israel. This was unacceptable.

REBUTTAL #3: WAIT ! Stop THE PRESSES ! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard Deborah used as a defense of Woman Pastors. Let's be 100% clear here. Deborah was a JUDGE ! A JUDGE ! Notice something, where are Judges found ? In court houses, not churches. Furthermore the title of Judge is not an ecclesiastic one, it's a social one. Therefore bringing Deborah up only defends the position that women can be social leaders (ie, Senators, Presidents, Governs, Judges, so on so forth) but it has nothing to do with Church titles. So Deborah is generally irrelevant to the topic at hand. Which is can women be pastors, Not can women be leaders.

Also in the Book of Judges, we read about a woman named Jael, and how God used her to kill a king who’s kingdom threatened the existence of Israel.

REBUTTAL #4: Okay...women can be warriors too...but still not on topic.

In the Gospels, we discover the very first people to preach the resurrection of Jesus. You might guess it was Peter and John, right? Wrong. It was a group of women. God revealed the resurrection to women first. You may not think this is a big deal. Get this… In the first century, in the eyes of their society, this kind of testimony would have been worthless on the tongues of women. If the Bible were merely authored by humans, it would never have said that women were the first ones to understand and spread the message of the resurrection. This would have been incredibly distasteful, and made the movement look like some kind of cosmic joke! However, this is how God chose to use the “weak” to shame the “wise.”

REBUTTAL #5: I like how the writer inserts the word "preach" into the article as if these women were in a pulpit. This is just my opinion but perhaps the women were the first ones to hear of Jesus' resurrection because...oh...I don't know, ALL THE MEN RAN FOR THE HILLS! Except for Peter who followed at a distance and then denied Christ. When Jesus was praying in the garden He came back and found His disciples sleeping. Also not in Luke 24:11-12, the women's testimony WAS considered foolishness UNTIL Peter went to go see for himself. Yes the women were the first to know BUT Peter was the man they needed to convince in order to have a solid testimony. So just because the women were the first to know of Jesus' resurrection still does not prove they can be pastors. It just proves that God can use anyone at anytime for His glory, even women who's testimonies weren't carried with much weight.

In Acts 18, we read about Priscilla, a leader in the church. Priscilla had a husband named Aquila. However, many times in the New Testament, Priscilla’s name is written first, before her husband’s. In the first century language of Koine Greek, this is making a huge statement. In a male dominant society, it was not “proper” to mention the wife before the husband, but this is how God wanted it written. We also learn that Priscilla and her husband both taught the Word of God to a highly educated man, Apollos. Priscilla instructed Apollos. She taught him the Bible. She taught him to be a very influential church leader. Wait a second… didn’t 1 Timothy say that women can’t teach men…? Oh my, oh my… Does the Bible contradict itself…? Absolutely not!

REBUTTAL #6: For starters, NOWHERE in The Bible does it say that Priscilla was a leader in the church, to imply such is an error. Also if you read Acts 18:24-26. Priscilla and her husband Aquila were just AT the church when Apollos was speaking. BUT, did Priscilla get up and say anything in the pulpit ? Did Aquila get up and say anything in a pulpit? No, what did they do ? Well if you read on, it'll say that Priscilla and Aquila invited Apollos to their home and taught him. Notice how she didn't do anything in the church. Furthermore in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 Paul is talking about how a woman should conduct themselves WITHIN the church. Therefore it is 100% A-OKAY for Priscilla to address Apollos and teach him at her home, but within the church, no. Also the authority which Paul is speaking about is not general authority such as a C.E.O has over the employees, this is the authority Adam has over Eve, notice that after this Paul point to the Created Order to support his point. Side note, look in your indexes, Priscilla's name only occurs in Acts 18 and 1 Cor 16:19 and neither verse makes any implication that she was a leader. Simply pointing out that her name was written before Aquila's name and it was a big no-no in that society does not imply pastorship and it is very faulty logic to think so.

In Acts chapter 21, we read about Philip’s four unmarried daughters. They were all prophets. That means these women prophets spoke God’s words. They said things like, “The LORD says this…” Then they delivered a message directly from God. How much more authoritative can speaking get? Doesn’t 1 Timothy say that women should be quiet? Oh no, another contradiction…? Not a chance!

REBUTTAL #7:Philip's 4 daughters were not in the church prophesying. They were at Philip's house. And yet again, just because they prophesied does not mean they can be pastors. And yet again Paul in 1 Tim 2:12-14 is discussing Church etiquette, which again his 4 daughters were not in during their prophesying.

In Romans 16, we read about a woman named Junia. Quite sadly, for a few centuries in the early beginnings of the church, some men could not accept Junia’s name being in the Bible, so they changed it to “Junias,” a man’s name. Why? Because the Greek text seems to communicate that Junia was an apostle. Apostles were pastors, on steroids! Apostles started and pastored many churches. Based on the way it is written in the most respected Greek manuscripts we have, we would be wise to accept that she was an apostle. Men in the first centuries sure believed she was an Apostle, which is why they changed the text. Eventually, people caught wind that God’s Word was being adulterated in Romans 16, and they put a stop to it.

REBUTTAL #8: I won't deny that the name Junia was changed to Junias, I'll need to do more research on that topic, HOWEVER. Romans 16:7 and Mark 6:30 are the only places in which Junia is mentioned. Also the word Apostle does not automatically translate to Pastor. Apostle simply means "messenger", it comes from the Greek word apostello. Junia was not one of the 12 called by Christ Himself but rather a missionary. The Bible makes no implication that Junia had similar authority as that equal to the 12. Therefore to imply such without visible reason is a faulty argument.

So what’s with the few texts in the New Testament that seem to say women can’t preach, teach, and/or lead men (1 Corinthians 14:34-38; 1 Timothy 2:8-3:7; Titus 1:5-9)? It’s important to remember that these verses come from letters written by Paul, and they are addressing specific situations that he is dealing with. In some cities, women were mature enough to lead, prophesy, and preach. In other cities, the women just weren’t ready for it.

In some churches, women were abusing their newly discovered liberty in Christ, and they were misusing the power of leadership. They wanted to get back at men for the centuries of injustice. They were trying to exercise authority over men. Remember the curse from the fall? The man will have “authority over” the woman? That being said, in some situations, Paul said “no” to women leadership, because their hearts were too hard.

REBUTTAL #9: They were letters yes, BUT Paul was addressing issues in THE CHURCH. As in The Church as a whole. Why else would these letters be distributed ? Paul was addressing a single church BUT all churches would benefit from these letters. And thus far from the examples given, The instructions in Paul's letters still stand.

Here’s a modern example. I was in Africa for nine months. I spent a lot of my time living in a mud hut, in a remote, Muslim village. One of my projects in the village was to help the people build a school for their children. Well, in order to build the school, we had to take out a bunch of massive palm trees. By the way, we had to do it with machetes and shovels? Not my idea of fun!

It would’ve been much easier for me to buy a few chainsaws and give them to the people to use. In fact, some of the people actually asked me to buy them. However, the community didn’t know how to use chainsaws. They didn’t grow up using powered equipment. If I would’ve dropped these things off, and then come back the next week, there might have been a few dozen body parts laying on the ground. Why? Are chainsaws bad? Of course not! But the people weren’t ready for them. So, it was better for me to say, “No to chainsaws.” In the right situation, if people were ready for them, I would say “yes.”

It was right for Paul to say, “No to women being pastors”, when the specific church he wrote to wasn’t ready for it. However, Paul affirmed women leadership in other situations, when the time was right. There are no contradictions whatsoever. We must understand the way Paul was communicating. Many people make this sound so complex, but it is actually quite simple, really…

Let’s look at one more example of how this works.

How about slavery? We know God hates slavery. Nevertheless, He reluctantly permitted it, because God worked with us on our levels. What about Paul? Well, he hated slavery too. However, do you remember all those passages where Paul talks about slaves “obeying their masters?” He even tells them to remain slaves, even though they had become disciples of Jesus. He said, “Don’t run away.” Why doesn’t Paul just outright overthrow slavery? Why doesn’t he just tell it like it is? Because, promoting the saving truth of the Gospel was the first priority, and he didn’t want to overshadow it. If a person understands who Jesus is… what He has accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection, then it should eventually be obvious that slavery is evil.

Let’s not forget, Paul did challenge slavery in the book of Philemon. A slave named Onesimus ran away from his master, Philemon, then he became a disciple of Jesus. Running away from your master was punishable by death, or at least some really severe torture. Paul told Philemon to let it go, and take Onesmius back as a brother in Christ, not a slave. Wow! This is huge! Paul didn’t say, “Hey Philemon, slavery is wrong! Let’s start up an abolitionist movement right now!” No, it should be obvious to anyone who follows Jesus that slavery is wrong. Period. If our hearts are in tune with the Spirit, it is obvious!

Well, it sure took a long time for American Christians to figure that one out… For hundreds of years, American Christians quoted the Bible. They said things like, “See, it says right here! You’re a slave. I’m your master. God says obey your slave masters! That’s just the way it is, and you better believe it, because the Bible says so!”

REBUTTAL #10: Slavery during Biblical times was not like slavery in 18th century America. There were only 3 reasons people became slaves during those times, as spoils of war, willingly, or they were purchased. Furthermore the slaves back in those times were similar to butlers (at least the willing ones) Furthermore, these slaves were not mistreated or shunned or anything like that. Slaves were people who worked for other people and sometimes, those slaves were paid for their work, not much granted but still. Even those slaves as war spoils were not generally mistreated.

But when we go back to Genesis 1 and 2, we learn that God never intended anything like this…

Back to our original statement, “Women can be pastors”. Of course they can, if they’re called by God. By the way, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

REBUTTAL #11: That Galatians verse is ALWAYS ripped out of context. That verse is NOT talking about gender. If you read the context, it is not discussing roles in the church but rather it is showing that all are grafted into the Promise of Abraham regardless of ethnicity, social class and gender. It is NOT saying that we are the same throughout. That would be silly considering that if our gender did not matter and we are all the same, the banning of homosexuality would make no sense. God is showing us that despite our differences we can still be in Christ. Because Christ is for The Jews and Greeks and the Men and The Women and The Slaves and The Free. For the context of Gal 3:28 (see Rom 10:12, 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 2:16, Col 3:11-18,)

God leads churches through the Holy Spirit, through leaders, through pastors. Being a pastor requires gifts, gifts that come from God, not men (1 Corinthians 12). God gives them to whoever He chooses. May we follow His leadership.

IN CONCLUSION: the writer of this article failed to make a valid point for women to be pastors and has made several assumptions to draw his conclusion. Rather than deal with verses that address the issue of pastorship clearly as Paul has laid out in 1 Tim 2:11-14, Titus 1:5-7, stating that The Elder is to be "THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE". A woman is unable to be a husband and therefore is exempt from being a Pastor or Elder within the church. Likewise Paul continually states "MAN" in each of these letters for the role of pastor or elder. Paul does not use unisex language or dance around the topic, Paul points clearly to the Created Order of Adam and Eve as well as The Federal Headship of Adam and Christ in order to prove that he is NOT catering to society but rather is going by the examples laid out before him. By using these verses which are on the topic, we can see that the answer to the topic: Can women be pastors is a resounding "No." I will invite the author of this article to discuss the topic further and I will pray for Him that Christ convicts his heart to embrace His word. And once again I will say I am NOT doing this to prove someone wrong, rather I am doing this to prove Christ's word. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are ordered to give a defense for the faith that is in us, and since the author of this article has laid out his position, I, in turn as a brother in Christ have laid out mine, NOT for the sake of being right or divisive but simply for the sake of The Body of Christ. I will follow the author's lead and say May we follow His Leadership. Peace in Christ all ! n_n;;

For Further reading: